If you are considering divorcing your spouse, you have a lot to think about. The entire process can be emotionally draining, financially burdensome, and nerve-wracking.
However, you can take a couple of steps to ensure that you keep the process manageable. These are some of the top things to get in order before divorce and some questions you need to inquire of yourself before you get started.
1. Do You Need a Divorce Lawyer?
The first item on the list of things to get in order before divorce should be how you handle your divorce. You might wonder if you should hire a divorce lawyer. In some cases, people can complete and file their own divorce papers and represent themselves in court. However, there is a certain risk when citizens take it upon themselves to do that.
First, a person who files his or her paperwork risks making mistakes when completing the documents. The court typically doesn’t allow corrections after the person has filed the papers. Instead, they make that person complete the paperwork a second time, which usually results in paying additional fees.
The second risk people take when trying to represent themselves in a divorce process is underestimating the other person. Your spouse may contest your divorce. He or she may fight you tooth and nail over things like custody, visitation, spousal support, asset distribution, etc.
You may lose if you don’t have a seasoned attorney on your side. Therefore, it’s best to hire divorce lawyers, no matter how simplified you believe the case is. You never know what obstacles and issues might arise, and you will want to be prepared with the appropriate strategy.
2. Are Children Involved?
The next one of the things to get in order before divorce is to learn everything you need to know about child custody law before you go to court for a divorce. That way, you will have one up on your spouse, and you can work on improving your standing before you even get to the courtroom. These are the areas where you will need to do your research before the court date:
Different Types of Custody Arrangements
Find information about the different custody arrangements you can have with the other parent. For example, sole custody is an arrangement where one parent has the child 100% of the time, except for the brief periods the other parent has visitation.
Joint custody is an alternative arrangement where each parent has legal and physical custody of the child for 50% of the time. Different variations of these arrangements may be available, which is why you need to do research. Some things will remain private and under the rug, if no one takes initiative to check them.
How Judges Decide Who Gets the Children
You’ll also need to gather some information about which factors the judges consider when deciding where to place a child. Most courts say that they make decisions based on the child’s best needs. That means they look at factors such as the income levels, physical health, mental health, criminal record, and lifestyle choices of both parents.
Whether Children Have a Say
Some states consider what children desire when they reach a certain age. You will need to verify with your state to determine if it has such laws. Also, find information on whether the children can testify in court about which caretaker they would like to live with. Sometimes, asking the child what he or she wants will reveal something neither party knew was prevalent.
The goal in this part of the process is to familiarize yourself with how it works and educate yourself so that you will not be blindsided by any of it.
3. What Will Happen to Your House?
Knowing what will happen to your house is another one of those things to get in order before the divorce so that you won’t lose your mind. The courts will have to decide unless you and your spouse create an amicable agreement regarding who gets your home. That means you won’t be able to sell a house during a divorce unless you have an agreement that supports it.
Typically, the court looks at all assets as either marital or non-marital. Non-marital items are things you had before you married that your spouse should have no right to claim.
The court will divide the assets it determines are marital assets according to their laws. Thus, you may or may not get the home. You’ll need to have a backup plan in case you do not get possession of the house in the end.
4. Are There Other Properties to Worry About?
You may also need to concern yourself with any other property you have. For example, your real estate investment properties could be in trouble if you accumulated them after you got married.
You may need to consult with a real estate attorney about your rights and options while you go through your divorce. It might also be wise to hire a property management company if you don’t have one now.
Property management companies are there to handle various aspects of the management of a specific property for you. For example, they might handle payments, tenant complaints, repairs, or other parts of the business.
5. What Will You Do with Your Things?
Deciding what to do with your personal property if you have to move is another one of the many things to get in order before the divorce. These are some ideas for what to do with your belongings during or after the divorce proceedings:
Rent a Storage Space
One idea is to rent some space at a storage facility to put your things temporarily. Storage spaces usually aren’t that expensive, and they will keep your items secure while you work out what to do with the remainder of your life.
Some storage facilities run specials and allow interested parties to pay as little as $1 for the first month. Maybe you should seek a deal like that if you desire to save money on your endeavor.
Move Into a Different Place
Now might be the time to start looking at apartments and smaller places. You might have to reduce your monthly expenses since you will no longer be a part of a two-person household. A mover service can help you pack, load, and unload your items when the time comes to relocate.
Sell Items at a Yard Sale or Flea Market
You might choose to liquidate your assets instead. There’s nothing wrong with having an old-fashioned garage sale to grab the community’s attention. You might be surprised how successful you are at getting rid of the items. The money you earn during the sale can help you gather the funds you need to start over.
6. Are Your Finances in Order?
It’s smart to get your finances in order before you proceed to get a divorce. These are some tips for ensuring that your finances are good and you will survive after the dissolution:
Create New Streams of Income
Since you are divorcing, now is the perfect time to create new streams of income for yourself. You may lose a substantial amount of income due to spousal support payments or simply because you no longer have a two-person household. Therefore, you will need to combat that if you want to stay on top.
Think of something you can start and build up for yourself to bring more money into your newly transformed household. Maybe you can get into the recycling business or start a side-contracting job. Perhaps you want to consider computer repair, web design, or an arts and crafts business.
Set up Retirement Funds
It would be an excellent time to start your retirement fund. You can do so by contacting your employer and asking about their 401K plans or similar arrangements. Start having some of the pretax dollars from your paycheck go into that fund so that you’ll have access to them when you retire.
Talk to a Tax Consultant About Future Taxes
The structure of your taxes will also change once you put in the paperwork to file for a divorce. You may fall into an entirely new tax bracket that will not offer you a favorable tax payment rate. Because of such possibilities, it will be in your interest to hire the best tax consultant you can find.
Tax consultants can help with many aspects of the tax filing and tax collection processes. First, they can honestly advise you on which tax status to file for the most favorable results. They can also help you to file your taxes in a way that gives you a higher number of credits, deductions, and other benefits. This person can also file your taxes for you if it helps you in the end.
Look Into Making Some Investments
Consider involving yourself in some new investment strategies. Maybe you’re interested in the stock market. Study how it works, and then try investing in some very small stocks before you put a lot of money into it.
Perhaps you want to try your hands at cryptocurrency. It seems to be highly popular these days, and it might do something favorable for you. Maybe you have a little bit of investment cash now, and you want to get into real estate investment. Now might be a great time to buy a foreclosure home, TLC home, or project hotels or townhomes and fix them up so that you can use them in your endeavors.
Real estate investments can be a highly lucrative venture. Thus, you should go for it if you think it might be right for you. You can end up starting a business that keeps you afloat after your divorce and for the rest of your life.
7. What Will Happen to Your Car?
Your car’s fate is another one of those things to get in order before divorce that should concern you. Your vehicle is one of those assets that you may possibly have to part with if you divorce your spouse. That doesn’t mean you have to come out at the other end of this process as a defeated person who rides a bike or uses rideshare every day.
What you can do to get a headstart is shop for a new car as you go through the divorce proceedings. Shopping for a new car doesn’t necessarily mean shopping for a ‘new’ car. It means looking for a vehicle that’s different from what you already have.
Thus, you can search in the newspapers, online shops, and streets, or check with an old-fashioned buy-here-pay-here auto dealer to get what you need. Your goal will be to have another car up and running if the divorce doesn’t end in your favor. That way, you never have to skip a beat.
8. What are Your State’s Divorce Laws?
Another important one of the things to get in order before divorce is your knowledge of state regulations. Each state in the United States has a different set of rules regarding divorces. Even the grounds that qualify someone for divorce differ.
You may not have a legitimate reason to get a divorce in some states, and your reason might be perfect in others. That’s why you must take the time to check the grounds, residential requirements, and the way the state determines child custody matters and asset distribution.
You will also need to look into child support and spousal support calculations. Hiring a lawyer to help you is the most effective way to get the most reasonable outcome. However, gathering your own education on these matters will ensure that no one can pull the proverbial wool over your eyes, not even your own attorney. Reading lawbooks can help.
Address all of the above-mentioned things to get in order before divorce, and your divorce process will go smoothly. You should be single and on your own within a few months, and then you will be able to live your life the way you desire.